The war of words between Deputy President William Ruto and former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru is getting dirty.
On Sunday, the Deputy President went personal as he sought to link Ms Waiguru to Josephine Kabura, a key suspect in the Sh1.8 billion theft of NYS funds, terming the theft indefensible. Initially the figure was put at Sh791 million.
But in a rejoinder sent to the Nation, Ms Waigurusuggested that the DP’s attack on her and his public pronouncements on a matter that is being handled by an independent agency indicated that there was something Mr Ruto was uncomfortable with.
On Sunday, the Deputy President said the former CS was “cat-walking and talking a lot of English (kizungu mingi), in the face of the most audacious theft of public funds, staged by a “hairdresser” (Ms Kabura) who is reported to have carried loads of cash in sacks.
“When a hairdresser registers 20 companies in a day and goes on to be paid close to a billion, which she said she carried in sacks and then someone is cat-walking and talking a lot of English … Give me a break!” he said.
But Ms Waiguru didn’t take it lying down. “Like many Kenyans are, I’m curious about what regarding my submissions has made the Deputy President and his close allies so uncomfortable that they have to comment on this matter in public gatherings …. This is indeed very telling. And as I said, Kenyans are very intelligent people… They are following the events very closely and will not be fooled.”
“I have no interest in public exchanges with HE the Deputy President or those others speaking in public gatherings, on a matter that is being handled by competent government agencies,” she added.
Said Ms Waiguru: “If the Deputy President or Duale [Majority leader] or others … have facts to assist in this or any other investigation the appropriate thing to do would be to appear before the EACC, CID, or PAC like I and other witnesses did and present the evidence. Anything else is not only against the Standing Orders but can be construed as politicising an ongoing inquiry and an attempt to subvert the process.”
Before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Ms Waiguru has denied knowledge and dealing with Ms Kabura and instead said that cell phone call logs indicated that Ms Kabura and another suspect, Mr Ben Gethi, were in constant communication with Mr Ruto’s aide Farouk Kibet, whom Mr Gethi gave a million shillings.
Addressing worshippers during a fundraiser at PCEA Church in Zimmerman, Mr Ruto said the theft was indefensible.
Mr Ruto was for the second day turning the heat on Ms Waiguru, singling out the NYS scandal. Mr Ruto, however, absolved the government of accusations that it had presided over the theft of proceeds from the Eurobond.
“Of all the lies about corruption in government, the biggest one was on the Eurobond, and the biggest liar is the one who peddled it. But where money belonging to taxpayers has been lost, we must say so,” he said.
Last week, Ms Waiguru appeared before the PAC, which is probing the theft of the billions, and blamed top officials at the NYS and the Devolution ministry for the theft, insisting that she was not the accounting officer in the ministry.
She painted Mr Kibet and Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen as having benefited from the shady deals at the NYS.
In a purge last year, Cabinet secretaries Felix Koskei (Agriculture), Davis Chirchir (Energy), Kazungu Kambi (Labour), Charity Ngilu (Lands) and Michael Kamau (Transport) were forced to relinquish their positions amid accusations of graft.
The purge also swept away Mr Ruto’s Chief of Staff, Ms Mary Keitany. It is instructive that Ms Keitany had been linked to an unsuccessful attempt to influence MPs into impeaching Ms Waiguru. The attempted vote collapsed after Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi dropped it under unclear circumstances. A second gambit by Nandi MP Alfred Keter also failed.
Ms Waiguru has announced her intention to run for the governorship of Kirinyaga County, and will be one of the candidates fighting for the Jubilee Party ticket and seeking the support of President Kenyatta, in clinching the seat should she pass the first hurdle for which the Jubilee leaders have stated they will not favour any candidate.
Stating that the government was keen on developing and uniting the nation, Mr Ruto said it would also not relent in ensuring those implicated in corruption faced the full force of the law, saying the government would not tolerate “nonsense” when it came to safeguarding public funds.